Thursday, January 30, 2014

I did NOT sign up for this

Recently a friend posted this on FB:

It's a beautiful post by a wonderful writer who basically reminded herself that she "signed up" for motherhood and therefore should stop complaining about all the endless laundry and general lack of personal freedom she now must endure from now until...what feels like eternity.

I love that post, but one thought kept ringing in my ear: I did NOT sign up for this.

Maybe she knew what she was getting herself into, but I had no freaking idea.

I mean, yes I "signed up" in terms of willfully getting myself pregnant.  But in no way, shape, or form did I really know what I was getting myself into.  In contracts law, this is definite grounds for rescinding, yes?  Law school was a long time ago, but I think I remember something about there having to be some kind of "meeting of the minds."  Some knowledge, some transparency, some sense that you know what you're agreeing to.

Prior to having my own baby, the longest I ever held a baby was probably 23 seconds.  The most I ever babysat was twice.  The number of times I changed a baby or child, played with a baby or child, read to a baby or child, sang to a baby or child, clothed a baby or child, or put a baby or child to sleep  You get the idea.

I did not know I would be unable to sleep well for 3+ years.

I did not know I would endure constant screaming in the car almost every time I drive.

I did not know I would be tripping over a crying, clingy small human every time I try to wash dishes or cook.

I did not know I would need to do laundry literally every day.

I did not know I would prepare food for people with no teeth, present it to them, only to have them throw it around or spit it out, and call that a meal.

And that I would go around and eat the regurgitated and flung scraps as if my mouth was some giant waste disposal system, and call that my meal.

I did not know my friendships would go down the toilet because it's (a) impossible to have a meaningful conversation with my kids around and (b) it's really expensive to hire a babysitter just so you can go and have a meaningful conversation.

I did not know my relationship with my spouse would be sorely tried.  At the end of the day, when the kids are asleep and we can finally have a conversation, we look at each other with dead cow eyes and mumble something about being tired.  How are two exhausted people with nothing left to give supposed to extend each other kindness and charity and patience?

And speaking of patience...I did not know I actually have very little patience.  I once, another lifetime ago, actually thought I was a patient person.  Hahahahahahahahaha.

I did not know that I would be feeling guilty when I work a full-time job.

I did not know that I would feel guilty staying at home with my kids all day and not engaging them in enriching activities but instead dragging them around town with me to do chores.

I did not know it cost an arm and a leg to find quality child care.

I did not know that guilt and a feeling of incompetence would be my left and right shadows.

I did not know that my mind would be so frazzled from sleep deprivation, feeding schedules, nursing schedules, nap schedules, bedtime schedules, trying to remember if I brought enough snacks or tissue or wipes or diapers with me, trying to remember to give baths, put on creams,  fill out prescriptions, wash hands, telling stories about superheros, managing meltdowns, etc. that I would lose my car keys and/or forget my wallet at Trader Joe's/Safeway/a restaurant at least once a week.

I did not know I would clean my house and put things away every day only to have it look like I never lifted a finger a mere 3 hours later.

Wow, this post is getting kind of long and I'm not even half way through!

Let's just say, basically I had no idea what I was getting into.  No one warned me.  Everyone who talks about parenting usually talks about puppies, sunshine and lollipops.  In that order!  Just kidding.

Of course the puppies, sunshine and lollipops are true too.  I do love my kids, yadda, yadda, yadda.  I just kinda wished I knew the other parts as well...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

My Child, My Self?

Needy, clingy, attention-whore, leaky-holed love bucket...

These are not words I would use to describe myself, but I would very readily attribute them to Judah.

I could spend (and have spent) 2-3 hours of pure, unadulterated, one-on-one time with him and it's still not enough.  As soon as I break off and do something else or pay attention to Noah, Judah melts down and whines "You never play with me Mommy!  You never love me!  I'm soooooo saadddd"

He's been like this all his short life.  Yep, even as a baby he would make darn sure you know he HAS to be the center of attention or there were consequences.  Very unpleasant scream-filled consequences.  So it's definitely not a "phase."  It's just Judah.


But I had a jarring realization these past few weeks.  Now that Judah can express himself pretty articulately, I'm shocked that he sounds!  Except that I've never said these words out loud.  I'm a pretty quiet, passive person (Judah's loud verbosity is definitely not from me), but every thing he says I've thought.  A lot.  Especially as a child.

It brought back flashes of memory that I hitherto had completely forgotten about.  How much I craved attention.  How much I craved praise.  How much I wanted everyone in the room to look at me.  Look at me!  Look at me!  Tell me I'm special!

Once in preschool I remember learning about bloody noses.  A classmate got one and all of sudden there was a flurry of excitement surrounding her like some warm angelic penumbra of love and care.  Oh how I wanted that too.  So...of course I punched myself in the nose repeatedly to try to make it bleed.

Turns out that just gives you a sore nose without a single drop of blood.

Realizing that Judah gets his attention-neediness from me has made me so much more compassionate toward him.  My poor kid.  Inherited some tough traits.

And it's given me so much more compassion for the Spouse.  So often we have recurring arguments wherein I accuse him of not spending enough time with me and he is completely baffled how I could come up with that conclusion.  He's always insisted I was a leaky love bucket and now I know exactly what it feels like to be on the other end of that bucket.

Filling it, filling it, and filling it again.  Only to turn around 3 seconds later to find that it's completely empty!

It's always hard to know what part of you is really you and what part of you was shaped by your environment and upbringing.  I'm realizing that having kids is kinda like an amazing internal mirror--helpful and revealing...but not very flattering.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Batboy and Chubs

This post is just a shameless vehicle for me to do what I really want to do--post these hilarious/cute pics of my kids.

Ever since Judah got this Batman costume for Christmas he's been loving it.  He very, truly, believes he morphs into a superhero when he dons it.  I mean, just check out the serious air with which he looks himself over in the mirror.  He obviously thinks he's a badass with that costume on--nevermind the cutesy penguin pajama bottoms.

At age 3.5 he has fully transitioned from a toddler who loved a variety of boy things--cars, policemen, trains--to a preschooler who loves one singular thing only--superheros.

As for Noah, he's getting more freaking adorable by the day.  Man I'm going to miss his baby days when he starts really thinning out.

Don't you think his facial expression here deserves an internet meme of his own?

Like: Seriously, you did what?
Or: Amiright?
Or: Really mom? Mac 'n' cheese again?

Okay, I'm tired, I can't think of any good memes.  Gold star for anyone who comes up with something better.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Whose Birthday Is It Anyway?

Dear Noah,

I'm sorry your brother is such an attention hog.

I'm sorry he talks literally non-stop and demands that I de facto ignore you as I listen and respond to him every 0.25 seconds.  Mommy, mommy, MOMMY!  Are you listening?!  Mommy!  I have to tell you something!  Mommy!

But if it weren't for him, you wouldn't even have this little party, such as it was.

Alice, the patron saint of brotherly love and half-assed birthday parties.

You see, I wasn't going to do anything because I'm just now recovering from wrecking our one and only car and almost breaking my hand.  But Judah pestered me about it all day.  When are we going to have Noah's birthday party?  Mommy?  Mommy, mommy, MOMMY!  You're not listening to me!

So I finally dug out our old party bag and found some party stuff and voila.  It was mostly to appease Judah.  But it was also to show him that you matter, that you get birthday fanfare as much as the next guy.

Judah sang the Happy Birthday song to you, but added his own name in that crucial third line--Happy birthday dear Noah and Judah!  Happy birthday to you!

And Judah was sorely disappointed that you didn't have a chocolate cake (like he did) and like he had been anticipating for months now.  Mommy, where's Noah's cake?  Mommy, mommy, MOMMY!  Why doesn't Noah have a cake?!

Um, because mommy crashed the family car last week and did not have the wherewithal to produce a cake!--is what I was thinking.

But I appeased him with some much hyped "Birthday chocolate."  You each got a Hershey kiss.  Stingy mommy wins!

And I spent the rest of the day marveling how this little peanut...

...has turned into this bigger little peanut.  In the blink of an eye.  (That sometimes felt like an eternity).

You've been such a wonderful addition to our family and the best little brother Judah could ever ask for--mild-natured, patient, independent, and pretty hard to provoke.  You don't mind your jealous brother hogging the limelight, but secretly I think you know you're the star in your own little way.

Mommy could not love you more sweet Noah.  (But shhhh, don't tell your brother that).

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bursting My Shriveled Little Raisinette Heart

This is Noah's first time going down the slide and Judah is very proud to be the one to show him how it's done.

I *itch and moan a lot about parenting.  But looking at this picture, my heart is so full.  Oh my loves.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Good-bye My Sweetheart, Good-bye My Dear Old

So this happened last weekend:

I was driving the kids to the library and hit a parked car.  Because I was getting them a stupid mum-mum cracker.  And the cracker was broken into 3 pieces.  And I was taking just a split second too long staring at the pieces and trying to decide how to dole them out to the kids.

And then I looked up just in time to see the un-moving car right in front of us.  I slammed on the brakes in disbelief but it was too late.  CRASH!  I think my hands were still gripping that damned rice cracker.

Thankfully the kids were fine.  I thought I had a broken hand bone but the x-ray revealed only a bad sprain.  But still the aftermath was/is not at all fun.

Mentally, emotionally, of course I berated myself endlessly, playing the 10 second clip of the accident in my head on loop.  If only.  If only.  If only.  If only I wasn't so dumb.  Forget alcohol, mum-mums and driving don't mix.  Friends don't let friends pass out snacks in the car while driving down a winding steep hill.  Argh.

Physically, I was handicapped for the next 3-4 days.  I couldn't use my left hand at all.  No dishes, no diaper changes, no cooking--I wasn't even able to floss myself!

And of course the biggest hit was financial.  Now we have to dole out a pretty penny for a new used car.

But strangely, there is another kind of sadness.  I realized I just really loved our old car.  Our good ol' tiny compact car that we bought from 2 Ukrainian mafiosos in Sacramento with no legit business papers and despite the salvaged title.  We got such a ridiculously good deal on it (hello giant assumed risks) and it had served us so well for the last 5 years.

I never knew I could get so attached to an inanimate object.  I think I need to name it and say a proper good-bye.  So here goes.

Good-bye Ol' Blue (cuz it was blue).  We hardly knew ya'.  Our time was cut too short.  With only 87,000 miles on you, we thought for sure you'd be Judah's first car one day.  You saw us through the happiest moments of our lives--driving home our newborn babes.  (I can't believe I actually feel on the verge of crying as I type this).  You were dependable and reliable.  Isn't that what we call a friend?

Say hello to all our old previous 4-wheeled carriages who are now resting in a better mechanical universe:
Gray (the gray Buick)
Forest (the forest green LeSabre)
and Tori (the gray Taurus)

Love, Your last owners.

Friday, January 03, 2014

The Humble Dandelion

Eventually I'll find the time to do some kind of end of year/new year post.  But for now, I just want to do something quick and dirty.

The other day we played in an open field full of dandelions.  Those downy seedlings will always be magical to me.  And to Judah.  Since his earliest days he's loved them.

There are few things as transcendent as watching your child blow those puffy balls into the air and speaking his wishes, like a perfect physical representation of what it means for his soul to dream and hope.

Photo credit:

Although the wonder of it all is a little dampened when you realize the childish mundanity of their requests.  With each exhale, Judah wished for a "T-Rex gunner car."  (That's some kind of ungodly creation consisting of a t-rex and a car with a gun on it, like a tank).

Oh well, I guess world peace and the fulfillment of our cosmic longing for meaning and love is still a bit too lofty for a three year old.  But that's my wish for us all for 2014.  Happy new year!

(Addendum: A few days later Judah found more dandelions and repeatedly wished for "that I get a cooler toy than Noah."  Yeah, this guy is definitely not the Dalai Lama.)